Home Affairs Minister Motsoaledi and Ramaphosa lied about e-Visa, it collapsed and only started working two months ago, after the department outsourced a private company

IOL – 31 Oct 2022

The complicated red-tape within Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has negatively affected the country’s investment opportunities, losing millions yearly because investors can’t readily access the country.

In 2018 Ramaphosa launched the SA investment summit that was meant to attract foreign investment to the country in order to raise the economy and create business opportunities.

However in about 152 investment pledges made since the start of the annual conferences, only 45 projects had been completed, while 57 others were under construction and the rest have failed to get off the ground, resulting in the loss of millions.

In March this year, the 4th investment conference, held in Sandton, Johannesburg, raised over R300 billion, Ramaphosa said in his closing address.

However, according to presidential investment envoy Jeff Radebe, it has not all been all well in the four years since its launch in 2018.

He reportedly said: “Not all the pledges [from the previous investment conferences] have been honoured. Economic challenges have conspired against these projects, but there have been some exceptional ones that have taken off.”

But according to sources, the biggest contribution to these failures is investors not being able to access the country because of difficulties getting visas.

The overhaul of the country’s immigration system has also not helped the situation.

The new system has caused a massive backlog because submissions previously went through visa and permit facilitation centres which would process applications and send the outcomes directly to the foreign national.

The news system visa applications will be processed through a centralised adjudication system which prolongs the process.

A number of immigration agents and immigration legal representatives told The Star they are frustrated due to the visa backlog and are concerned that potential investors are taking their funds to other countries.

Sources from the DHA have also told the paper that under the department, e-Visa collapsed and they blamed the DHA Minister Aaron Motsoaledi for failing to implement the e-visa process and properly manage it.

DHA sources also accused Motsoaledi of lying to Ramaphosa that e-Visa was implantation and it was working, while it collapsed and only started working in August and not via the department but through VFS Global.

The company is private and is also known as Visa Facilitation Services for government and diplomatic missions.

On February 10, 2022, Ramaphosa told the nation that the e-visa system had been launched in 14 countries including China, India, Kenya and Nigeria.

He said government was streaming and modernising the visa application process to make it easier to travel to South Africa for tourism, business and work.

However a sources said this was not working and it has brought misery to foreign clients.

“By the time Ramaphosa made that announcement, e-Visa was not working. Ramaphosa and Motsoaledi lied to the nation. The process was made so complicated that a person could apply from the US but their applications had to come to the country, then it had to go through five to seven people. That is why it collapsed. The only thing concerning e-visa that worked was during the piloting,” said a source.

The source said the applications had to be adjudicated by DHA officials manually since the system lacked artificial intelligence.

“When e-Visa collapsed at Home Affairs, without any tender process or advertising, the department used services of VFS,” she said.

According to another source, from 2014, VFS did normal visa applications until their contract expired in 2019.

“The minister further extended the contract with VFS, the contract is due to expire at the end of December this year. It will be interesting to know if the minister will extend the contract again without following open tender processes or if other companies will get a chance.

“Motsoaledi failed to implement the system and hired a private company due to inconvenience, and that he does not take advise from anyone except DDG advocate Constance Mootse,” said another source.

He said another concern is that anyone can apply for e-Visa from any part of the world, even inside South Africa.

“The lack of AI means that even terrorists or illegal immigrants in the country can apply, is that dangerous for the country? Another problem is that the e-Visa is not integrated to South Africa’s Risk Engine (SAPS, Intelligence, Sars, State Security Agency), this means that the adjudicator must check manually, isn’t this a safety and security concern?” he asked.

Another source said he is aware that in one of the Asian countries, since January this year there were over 9 000 visa applications, and no visa has not been issued yet.

Immigration agent Pieter van der Walt said Motsoaledi failed and is letting the country down.

“As long as we have the incompetent minister in that department, government can host countless investment summits, but business and tourism will not grow because of the backlog of visa applications,” Van der Walt said.

Immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg said the DHA cannot cope or fulfil the constitutional obligation.

“DHA has a constitutional mandate to provide services to the public efficiently. That is why I am saying they are incapable of doing so because they have no interest in helping foreigners. There is a total mismanagement at DHA,” Eisenburg said.

Another source said being a DHA senior employee means that you can be made to break the law.

“Cabinet ministers including Motsoaled have power to instruct us as senior staff at DHA to bend rules even though foreign nationals don’t meet a standard to enter South Africa. We have to toe the line,” said the source.

Motsoaledi’s spokesperson, Siyabulela Qoza, was given almost 24 hours to respond but failed by publication.

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya, was contacted for comment, however no comment was received from him.

www.samigration.com

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